UN Climate Change Report Hopeful
It is clear to many observers that human-caused stresses on Earth’s air, water and land have committed the planet to global warming that threatens civilization as we know it; specifically, man’s greenhouse gas waste has made climate changes inevitable. One reasonable life strategy is to enjoy what we have for as long as we have it, and to give some extra thought to adapting safely to a less supportive natural world.
Happily the gold standard group on climate change, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), disagrees that a new world is already inevitable. The IPCC report released 10/8/18 asserts that global warming can be held to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F.) if the whole world takes difficult steps soon. Climate scientists agree that if average world temperatures go past 1.5 degrees C. above preindustrial levels, bad and civilization-threatening consequences will likely occur in coming decades.
The catch is that the world collectively needs to perform “unprecedented” acts of cooperation and restraints on consumption within the next 10 or 12 years. The IPCC report outlines several “pathways” to keeping global warming within the IPCC’s tolerable ceiling of a 1.5 C rise. All of them are difficult, such as cutting present world greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
Very little on the world political horizon suggests even the beginning of commitments to keep greenhouse gases within the IPCC’s tolerable limits. China now generates over 10 percent of global CO2 emissions, and maintains its unequivocal commitment to high economic growth despite environmental costs. While the United States kicks out another 5 percent of world CO2 emissions, the Trump EPA is reversing the environmental, climate-change measures Obama’s team implemented, in effect unilaterally giving up on damage-control.
The IPCC gives us the best, most current, picture of what Homo Sapiens is doing to itself. Preserving the world as we have enjoyed it will require Churchill’s heroic “blood, sweat and tears” efforts, in unison, and some luck.